We all have that one thing that is our jam. Music, sports, science, food or farming. If you are lucky, maybe even a few things. Your passion is what drives you to success. Passion is what wakes you up even in arctic temperatures to feed and break frozen water before the break of dawn. If fortunate that passion you have trickles down to the next generation. I think it is safe in saying the livestock bug has hit both of my children. I survived my first year as a 4-H mom and the 9 year old showing at shows and fairs. Let’s be real for a minute…adulting, parenting, and raising livestock is not all stuff we want to share with the public, it can be messy. Thanks to social media, it allows us the privilege to showcase what we want everyone to see, not necessarily real life.
It’s what happens at home behind the scenes that is forming the next generation. I will be the first to admit I flip my lid every once in a while. I am tough, I expect a lot from my children and I am even a bit intense… but only a tiny bit.
My parents have always been by the book and I was afraid to break rules with fear of disappointing them and others (they are great parents). Honesty and hard work was expected and cheating never an option. Let’s be real, I have disappointed my parents and am far from perfect I am just like every other woman out there. I have let myself down and had reactions that I wish I could erase.
Prime example: It is move in day of county fair. I may have flipped my lid and freaked out trying to get it all together. Animal selection for fairs was always a very high stress day in my family. Raised tones, yelling, fighting among siblings of who got to take what pen of meat chickens, getting sheep washed and making sure all the paperwork was in the show box. No matter how ugly it was we got to the fairgrounds you plastered on the smile and charged forward. Final prep of getting to the fair was stressful but once there the magic began again. I remember those messy moments but I cherish the memories my parents allowed us.
Home, that’s where the learning and leading needs to begin. Setting the bar and setting it high for being honest and following the rules.
This week I learned of the passing of a man who I knew not well, but knew well enough as a leader in the sheep industry. Larry Mrozinski judged me many times while showing Horned Dorsets as a child and even adult. My memory was he was always friendly and kind of liked our sheep, so I liked him a bit more. The Banner Sheep magazine published his obituary and an article Larry wrote years ago that was Nationally acclaimed.
Read this and really think about how your actions and words are effecting your children and the children you mentor. It is a great piece that while fiction can and is completely real life to some. Apply this to your life, read between the lines and I think it will hit home even if you are not a livestock parent. If you are a livestock parent read extra close, what are we really teaching our children?
Learning By Example
When Tommy was 8 years old, his father registered a lamb born on December 24 as being born on January 2. His father said to Tommy, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 9 years old, his father bred the family’s flock of purebred ewes with a ram of another breed and registered the lambs as purebreds. His father said to Tommy, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 10 years old, his 4-H leader and county agent tagged and weighed newly purchased lambs a month after the ownership deadline. They both told him, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 11 years old, his parents bought him a registered ewe lamb to show at the county fair and changed the ear tag to their own flock tag. His parents said, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 12 years old, his grandparents bought him a show lamb and left it with the breeder who fed and fit the lamb until the day before the county fair. The breeder and his grandparents said, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 13 years old, his veterinarian issued health papers for sheep he never inspected and that had foot rot and lamb fungus. He said, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 14 years old, his neighbor used an electric animal prod on his lamb to get it to brace. He told Tommy, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 15 years old and after winning the Grand Champion Market Lamb at the county fair, he saw his dad having a beer with the judge and paying the judge $200 for making his son’s lamb champion. The judge and his father said, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 16 years old, his FFA advisor falsified the number of Tommy’s winning sheep proficiency award entry. His advisor said, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 17 years old, his uncle used Lasix on his market lamb at the state fair to make it weigh into a lighter class. His uncle said, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 18 years old, his brother pumped the loin of his lamb at a national sheep show. His brother
said, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 19 years old, his entire family knew that he’d given clenbutural to his market lambs. They told him, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was 20 years old, a friend offered him cocaine. His friend said, “It’s okay, kid; everybody does it.”
When Tommy was arrested later that night for using cocaine and called his family to ask them to bail him out of jail they told him, “How could you have brought such a disgrace to your family? You never learned any of that at home. Where did you go wrong?” After hearing of his arrest, Tommy’s 4-H leader, FFA advisor, county agent, grandparents, uncle, veterinarian and neighbors were also shocked. If there’s one thing the adult world can’t stand it’s a kid who breaks the rules